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Ballet Theatre Company’s ‘Up Close: Spring, Budding Affairs’ will Bloom this May

Guest artists Derek Brockington and Alexandra Hutchinson from Dance Theatre of Harlem. Photo by Renee Choi

‘Budding Affairs’ will have its premiere on May 1, 2021, and will be available through May 9.

BTC Season Dancers Emily Silva and Jo-ann Burke dance with Alexandra Hutchinson of Dance Theatre of Harlem in the third movement of BTC’s Budding Affairs. Photo by Erica Marie Photography

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Ballet Theatre Company’s Spring Digital Season performance of “Up Close: Spring, featuring a brand new work titled “Budding Affairs,” will premiere digitally on May 1 at 7 p.m. EST and be available for viewing until May 9.

Before the effects of COVID-19 hit the New England area, West Hartford’s Ballet Theatre Company (BTC) was looking ahead to an exciting 22nd season that would include the initiation of a semi-annual performance, presented in the fall and spring, titled “Up Close.” The performances would take place in the company’s brand new 2,200 square foot state-of-the-art studio and performance space, The Ron and Nancy Compton Studio, and feature new choreography set on BTC’s professional Season Dancers and guest artists. Its name was derived from the fact that the audience would be seated “up close” to the dancers, exposing a more intimate perspective of the performing arts.

Alexandra Hutchinson of Dance Theatre of Harlem rehearsing for Budding Affairs in BTC’s The Ron and Nancy Compton Studio. Photo by Tracy Dorman

The closures of performance spaces and social distancing restrictions didn’t stop BTC’s Artistic Director and choreographer, Stephanie Dattellas, from chasing her dream to produce “Up Close” this season. The company quickly pivoted to a digital platform and premiered “Up Close: Fall” in November 2020 that featured two of Dattellas’ brand new works,”Autumn Aurora”and “Flashes.”

“Autumn Aurora” was the beginning of a long-term choreographic project Dattellas had been itching to do for some time; choreograph movement to the entirety of Antonio Vivaldi’s well-known “The Four Seasons.” Since the performance would be pre-recorded, Dattellas used the opportunity to let her creativity stretch beyond the confines of a traditional performance venue. Instead of using The Ron and Nancy Compton Studio to film the piece, BTC’s Season Dancers, select Corps de Ballet members, and guest artist Roman Mejia from New York City Ballet, were filmed performing on the grounds of a private estate in Winchester, CT draped in beautiful fall foliage, creating the perfect backdrop for the three-movement “Autumn” concerto.

The Ron and Nancy Compton Studio located at 20 Jefferson Avenue in West Hartford. Courtesy photo

The thrill of the digital performance and the positive responses only increased Dattellas’ desire to continue her long-held dream. While looking back on the ups and downs of the past year, she reflected on her many changed relationships – those with people she used to see everyday, romantic relationships, friendships, her family, places she used to frequent, and herself. Dattellas remarks, “As I revisited Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ concerto it became clear that the piece would be constructed through the reflections I had made on relationships. The opening allegro, through its quick and celebratory nature, would portray stories of friendships. The adagio, raw and emotional, would depict solitude and loneliness, and the final piece, would honor three women in a tribute to my relationship with my three sisters.”

Dattellas reached out to Derek Brockington of Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), who had performed in BTC’s 2018 and 2019 productions of “The Nutcracker,” and inquired about him guesting with the company once again. Brockington and his co-worker, roommate, and good friend, Alexandra Hutchinson, had been making news in the dance world and beyond, with features seen on The Ellen Show and in Pointe Magazine, surrounding the release of their self-edited video titled, “Dancing Through Harlem.” The online hit featured them and several of their DTH co-workers performing Robert Garland’s “New Bach” throughout the streets of Harlem. When Brockington mentioned that Hutchinson was also available, she too became a part of the conversation in making “Budding Affairs” a reality. Dattellas was so impressed with Hutchinson that she became the canvas on which Dattellas used to create the second movement of the “Spring” concerto, identified as the movement depicting solitude and loneliness, a very personal portrayal drawing from Dattellas’ own emotions while in quarantine.

BTC Season Dancer, Emily Silva with guest artist, Roman Mejia of New York City Ballet dancing in Dattellas’ Autumn Aurora. Photo by Thomas Giroir

BTC’s Season Dancers, Emily Silva, Jo-ann Burke, and Joseph Beltre, will also be featured in the digitally presented performance. All videography for BTC’s entire Spring Digital Season are the talents of Peter Cofrancesco of Creation Dream Video. Video editing for “Budding Affairs” is the work of BTC’s Production Assistant, Alison Greene, who has also been using her videography talents to create sneak-peek videos featuring exciting happenings going on at BTC all shared on Fridays as a part of BTC’s #FilmFriday.

Tickets for “Budding Affairs” are $15 per household. Tickets are determined by IP address and allow unlimited viewing access to the ticket holder for the duration of the premiere length. “Budding Affairs” will premiere Saturday, May 1, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m. EST through Sunday, May 9. “Budding Affairs” is sponsored in part by Ivan and Marianne Mueller.

Ballet Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. It is supported in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, The Edward C and Ann T Roberts Foundation, Cricket Press, Laurel Graphic Design, and We-Ha.com.

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